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In today’s news from the Capitals:
A lobbying campaign against a European Parliament resolution exposing alleged conflict of interest and misuse of EU funds involving Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is raising eyebrows among MEPs before a key vote on Wednesday (9 June). Read more.
Shipping ETS ‘fuels’ the fire in the Commission. The European Commission’s inter-service consultation over the measures for shipping included in the “Fit for 55” legislative package has resulted in a huge clash between DG Move and DG Clima, EURACTIV has learned. More.
EU in talks with US, UK on mutual recognition of COVID-19 travel certificates. The European Commission is discussing with the United States and the United Kingdom the recognition of the COVID-19 travel certificate that will come into force in July in the EU, the European Commissioner for Justice has announced. More.
Austria sides with Denmark on controversial asylum law. Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer has welcomed Danish legislation to move asylum seekers to third countries as their application is processed, calling it a “compelling approach” to deal with migration, despite the European Commission having previously condemned the Danish law over legal and humanitarian concerns. Read more.
Regional German intelligence agency accused of illegal data storage. The intelligence agency of the eastern German state of Saxony has been accused of illegally storing the data of politicians, including MPs from the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens. Read more.
Belgium enters next stage of easing virus restrictions. As of Wednesday, the Belgian hospitality sector will be able to serve customers inside from 5 am until 11:30 pm. The use of an air quality measuring device (CO2 detector) is compulsory, with additional ventilation or air purification measures. Establishments are being threatened with immediate closure if they are caught without an air purification system. (Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)
UK AND IRELAND
Overseas aid spending. The UK government has no plans to offer a vote on whether the country’s aid budget should be restored, officials confirmed on Tuesday (8 June), days after narrowly avoiding the first major defeat in parliament.
A group of Conservative party rebels, including former prime minister Theresa May, had been set to inflict a defeat on Boris Johnson’s government by increasing overseas aid spending via a bill dealing with the UK’s new research agency, only for the speaker of the House of Commons to rule their amendment out of order on procedural grounds.
Last year, the government cut the UK’s aid budget from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%, equivalent to £4 billion, as part of cost cutting measures following the COVID-19 pandemic, abandoning a manifesto promise in the process. MPs are expected to explore other ways to force a vote on the issue in the coming days. (Benjamin Fox, EURACTIV.com)
Fianna Fáíl MEP: Brexit Minister not a ‘trustworthy interlocutor’. Fianna Fáíl MEP Barry Andrews of the Renew Europe group told an Irish parliament committee on Brexit that Brexit Minister David Frost is not a “trustworthy interlocutor” and that his current stance against the European Union is not credible, newspaper The Irish Times reported. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Pay transparency divides Finnish labour market. A working group set up roughly a year ago by Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s left-leaning government to increase pay transparency has been in hot water in recent months with internal tension seeing the Confederation of Finnish Industries leaving the group but participating in the debate from the sidelines. Read more.
Belarusian activists stage rally in Lithuania seeking to block traffic to Belarus. Belarusian activists in Lithuania staged a rally on Tuesday, aiming to block traffic heading to and from Belarus via the Medininkai border crossing, in a bid to put pressure on the Belarusian regime to open borders and call for stricter EU sanctions. Read more.
Greece to announce ‘benefits’ for vaccinated. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has the left the door open to prevent unvaccinated customers from entering cafes, restaurants and bars. More.
Italy preparing to end its military mission in Afghanistan. Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini was in Herat in the west of Afghanistan on Tuesday, where he witnessed the flag drop at the Camp Arena base ahead of the departure of the Italian contingent from the country. Read more.
Spain mulls lifting restrictions for hotels, restaurants, cafes. Spain’s health ministry is in favour of gradually lifting restrictions for the hotel, restaurant and cafes sector known as HORECA and is mulling the reopening of nightlife activities for medium-risk regions for COVID-19. Read more.
Europe’s largest coal power plant announces official closure date. Polish Energy Group (PGE), a state-owned public power company and the largest power producing company in Poland, has announced the dates it will be shutting down subsequent blocks of the coal power plant in Belchatow, Europe’s biggest coal-fired power plant. Read more.
Chief editor of Orbán-allied media: Pope’s behaviour is anti-Christian. Pope Francis wanted to humiliate Hungary by only visiting the country for three hours and not meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán or President János Áder, said András Bencsik, editor-in-chief of the Fidesz-allied Demokrata, Népszava reported. Read more.
Slovakia continues to buy army equipment from outside the EU. Slovakia’s defence ministry has signed an agreement worth $100 million with the US for the purchase of two additional Black Hawk helicopters – one of the many recent deals concluded with countries outside the EU. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Tensions in Bulgaria flare up after Turkish-Bulgarian party meets Erdogan. The visit of the mostly Turkish-Bulgarian Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) representatives to Turkey, where they also met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has provoked serious tensions in Bulgaria one month before the elections in parliament. Read more.
Attempt to censure Slovenia’s Left party thwarted. An attempt by two Slovenian coalition parties to contest the legitimacy of the far-left opposition Left party, which they claim harbours anti-constitutional elements, has been thwarted after the speaker refused to put it on the parliament’s agenda. More.
Commission expects Romania to take concrete steps on judicial reform. The European Commission acknowledged the Romanian authorities’ commitment to strengthen the judicial system in its latest report on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) but said it expects concrete legislative and other measures to be adopted in that field. Read more.
ZAGREB | SARAJEVO
Croatian, BiH ministers discuss cooperation, nuclear waste storage. Croatian Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić and BiH Foreign Trade Minister Staša Košarac on Tuesday held talks on cooperation in the energy sector and on plans to store low- and medium-level radioactive waste at Trgovska Gora. Read more.
Opposition demands North Macedonia government reveal Bulgaria talks. North Macedonia’s largest opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE, has set up roadblocks in Skopje and about 10 other cities across the country, demanding the government release details of a roadmap being negotiated between Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Bulgaria, Skopje Diem reported. Read more.
PODGORICA | ZAGREB
Montenegro says the 17+1 initiative has boosted Chinese investment. Montenegrin Economic Development Minister Jakov Milatović has praised the 17+1 initiative, saying the country has “recorded the largest inflow of foreign direct investment from China last year of €71.23 million.”
At the same time, Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazović asked the EU to help Montenegro return the billion-euro Chinese loan, which it took to build the first section of a highway.
“This platform is extremely broad and includes cooperation in almost every aspect of state policies and sub-policies. It is used to improve cooperation between China and CEE countries, and as such it has additionally strengthened economic cooperation between Montenegro and China in the last few years”, he said in a statement. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Kosovo abolishes temporary residence permit with Albania. Kosovo’s government has approved the International Agreement with the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania on the abolition of temporary residence permits, Albania Daily News reported. Read more.
TIRANA | BUDAPEST
Orban: Hungary fully supports Albania’s EU membership bid. Hungary fully supports Albania joining the European family, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told media following talks on Tuesday with Albanian PM Edi Rama, Albania Daily News reported. Read more.
- France: President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD), for a business lunch on Wednesday.
- Germany: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas meets Ukraine counterpart for talks in Berlin
- Italy: Economic Development Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti to meet his Maltese counterpart, John Dalli.
- Spain: The health council will meet and decide, among other things, whether the Spanish national team is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in time for the Euro 2020 before other vulnerable groups.
- Czech Republic: The European Parliament will vote on a resolution criticising Czech PM Andrej Babiš for his conflict of interest.
- Slovakia: Public Defender of Rights Mária Patakyová will take part in court hearings concerning the three victims of a police raid in Moldava nad Bodvou in 2013 who were awarded €20,000 in compensation each by the European Court of Human Rights in 2020 but are in court in Slovakia for allegedly forging the attack.
- Bulgaria: Protesters will occupy all entrances of the Palace of Justice in Sofia with the intention of not letting Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev get to his office. They insist Geshev resign for failing the anti-corruption battle.
- Romania: Prime Minister Florin Citu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin open the Romania-Israel Business Forum in Bucharest. The Israeli president will address the reunited chambers of Parliament.
- Croatia: Parliament continues its seventh session with a discussion on draft amendments to the 2021 state budget and the projection of plans for 2022 and 2023.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Josie Le Blond]